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Billions Season 4 Review: Extreme Sandbox

Not only is Billions coming back for a fifth season, but co-creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien have signed a new overall deal with Showtime. This is great news for the pair, as it means they’ll have the creative freedom to create new, thrilling television for our seemingly unending age of “Peak TV.” It’s also good because, although we already knew that more Billions was on the way, now it’s practically guaranteed. This is great news because following the events of the season four finale Extreme Sandbox, and especially that episode-ending cliffhanger, audiences are going to want more from Koppelman and Levien.
From Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Taylor Amber Mason’s (Asia Kate Dillon) ongoing battle of financial wits and war to the continued dissolution of Chuck (Paul Giamatti) and Wendy Rhoades’ (Maggie Siff) marriage, this season has been chock-full of deceptively wonderful goodies. We’ve seen apparently friendly, day-long excursions quickly turn into vengeful takedowns, the return of a fan-favorite antagonist, what could be a significant turn between three of the show’s biggest characters, and… chickens. Not all of these episodes and moments have been stellar, of course, but more often than not, Koppelman and Levien have been swinging for the fences and running home more often than not.

And then there’s Extreme Sandbox, which took everything that season four has done so well and turned up the volume.
On the lighter side of things, there’s the origin of the episode’s title – a recreational construction venture run by Mark Cuban – yes, that Mark Cuban – that lets clients operate heavy machinery for the sole purpose of destroying things. Cars, rocks, the very dirt beneath them – anything and everything can be a target. It’s all meant to be an outlet for aggression, and consider the sheer amount of crap that this season has dumped on Wendy and Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda), it’s no wonder that Bobby has decided to send them there for a playdate.

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Billions – Season 4 on DVD

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“One thing that’s come from this year,” Wendy later tells Rebecca over a beer, “I know I can handle f*cking anything. And Axe Cap? It’s mine. They really rallied around me in their own weird way. It’s the upside of being on a team, I guess.”

“I can see that,” says Rebecca. “It’s just not how I work. I like owning a team.”

Yay! People are having fun while the only thing that’s being destroyed is meant to be done in by construction equipment. This seems like a nice change of pace for Billions, no?

If you’ve been watching all of season four, let alone the three seasons that precede it, then you already know that Wendy and Rebecca’s day off isn’t long for this world. What’s more, you also know that it’s not just their happiness that will be utterly trashed by the episode’s end, but just about everyone else around them. The rest of the folks at Axe Cap, Rebecca’s efforts to take over and run the department chain Saler’s, Bobby’s ongoing battle with Taylor, Chuck’s squabbling to undo his enemies among the feds — it’s all going to be turned on its head when the credits roll and the screen fades to black.

Let’s get back to Wendy and Rebecca, then. One thinks that Bobby’s company is hers. The other believes that she’s better suiting for being in charge. As Extreme Sandbox plays out, however, the validity of these sentiments comes under intense scrutiny. For Rebecca, this arrives in the form of Bobby himself, the fellow hedge fund manager and entrepreneur she’s been dating this season. It turns out he didn’t send her and Wendy to Cuban’s venture out of the goodness of his heart. Instead, he removed her from the picture so that he could go behind her back and undo the handshake deal she made with Taylor behind his back. So instead of coming into the Saler’s board meeting as its assumed leader, she discovers that Bobby has undone all her hard work, won the board from her and, in the process, made a substantial amount of cash.

“You snake motherf*cker. You sent me off and you set me up,” Rebecca hisses at after the meeting. “I wanna run this business for real.’

the-billions-season-4-changed-the-direction

“This one wasn’t fit to run,” Bobby retorts after noting that, despite his deception, she’s still coming out on top with at least $1 billion following his snakey deal. “You climbed into bed and made a f*cking pact with my sworn enemy. But hey, as you once told me, ‘You’ll soon come to see the wisdom in this plan.’”

Needless to say, Bobby and Rebecca’s expensive, season-long flirtation is now dead. She hates him for sneaking behind her back, eviscerating her own deals and making his own. He hates her for having anything even remotely to do with Taylor.

As for Wendy, she finds herself on the receiving end of some unexpected leniency from the medical board, which had previously decided to revoke her medical license for three years. Instead, it seems they have decided to issue her a verbal warning – both because she decided to tell the truth at the hearing, and because they apparently received dozens of letters attesting to her character. That, and Bobby donated around $25 million to a medical charity to get on some of the board members’ good side. Her estranged husband Chuck also had a hand in these changes, and he willfully takes credit for them all, a move that briefly repairs their broken marriage. Once she discovers the donation and Chuck’s latest deception, however, Wendy leaves their home presumably for the last time… and heads straight to Bobby’s place.

It’s just enough to sour Chuck against Bobby yet again, inspiring the New York state attorney general to refocus his vengeful efforts on the manipulative financial guru. So while the formerly allied pair’s plans to do in Taylor and their company Mason Capital have resulted in that company’s dissolution and the return of some former Axe Capital employees to the fold, Chuck appeals to their good graces for a chance at revenge. So yes, season five will see Taylor and Mafee (Dan Soder) back under Bobby’s watchful eyes, they will also be working as sleeper agents for Chuck’s office.

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good-place

The Good Place Season 3 Is Still The Best

My friends, The Good Place is a beacon of light in this week of darkest timeline news feeds. In its third season, which premieres Thursday night, the NBC sitcom is still surprising, still meticulously plotted, and still hilarious at an extremely high velocity. It is, without question, television’s best philosophi-com, which is what I call a comedy that explores philosophical and ethical issues. I realize it doesn’t have a lot of competition in that regard, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s earned the title.

Actually, here’s a philosophical question for you: Does humanity even deserve The Good Place? Because I look around at people — yes, I’m including the individual on Facebook who suggested that everyone should donate to a GoFundMe for Brett Kavanaugh because people gave money to help Christine Blasey Ford pay for her security and it’s only fair — and I honestly wonder if we deserve this show.

Here’s another: What if the next huge twist on The Good Place is that the world is really the Good Place and we’re screwing it up? That’s kinda, sorta, but not exactly the starting point for the third season. As you may recall from the end of season two, recovering demon Michael (Ted Danson, still an utter joy in every scene) convinced Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph, also a joy) to let him send Eleanor (Kristen Bell, yet another joy), Chidi (William Jackson Harper — yep, a joy), Tahani (Jameela Jamil, who is — you guessed it! — a joy), and Jason (Manny Jacinto, who I’ll call “a constant revelation in idiocy” just to mix things up) back to Earth in order to determine whether it’s possible for flawed human beings to course-correct without the guarantee of a heavenly destination. It’s an experiment that is much like, you know, life.

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The Good Place – Season 3 on DVD

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Thanks to some nudging from Michael, all four of his lab rats wind up in Australia, where Chidi and Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste of Killing Eve and Barry), Chidi’s university colleague and possible soul mate, launch a study that considers whether near-death experiences lead people to behave in a more ethical fashion. Because Michael came to Earth and intervened, the incidents that initially caused the deaths of the show’s central characters were averted, making Chidi, Eleanor, Tahani, and Jason ideal subjects for the study. Even the study itself is sparked by a bit of Michael’s manipulation: He believes that none of them can reach their decency potential unless they remain in each other’s presence.

The problem for Michael — who’s aided in his efforts by Janet (D’Arcy Carden, a joy in her depiction of robot genius) — is that every time he leaves the netherworld to ensure that the foursome stays together, there’s a chance he will alter the master timeline and cause a ripple effect of unintended changes. This is basic Back to the Future stuff that Michael would understand if he hadn’t been working in the afterlife for hundreds of years and, presumably, learning nothing about McFlys and flux capacitors. In other words, spoiler alert: Michael’s plan goes more than a little oopsy-daisy. “Because of you,” Judge Gen informs Michael at one point, “Byron Allen owns The Weather Channel now.” What other show on television makes jokes about Byron Allen’s business decisions? No others — because they don’t have the guts.

Since season one, The Good Place has repeatedly rebooted its central narrative and shifted our understanding of its setting and what its characters are capable of doing within it. That it’s still able to do this so skillfully in its third season, without ever becoming remotely predictable, is an astonishing feat. After the season-two finale, the AV Club’s Dennis Perkins wrote that “lesser TV shows give you what you think you want,” while The Good Place “gives you what you didn’t know you needed.” That’s absolutely right, and still accurate based on the three episodes I’ve seen from this latest season.

The Good Place also serves up more ridiculously random gags per second than any other show on TV, with the possible exception of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but I think it’s even got that beat. This season has jokes that involve BuzzFeed Kim Kardashian quizzes, Spider-Man, Ted Danson wearing an array of ridiculous disguises, dank memes, a fourth Hemsworth brother named Larry, and, of course, Jason’s beloved Jacksonville Jaguars. Trevor, the especially evil demon played by Adam Scott, plays a key role in the second episode and is given a hilarious array of characteristics to highlight what a garbage person (demonic entity?) he is. Example: He gets very excited when he realizes that the theme of a trivia night is Logan Paul. There’s also an entire sequence that unfolds in an American-themed restaurant called the Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet, an absurd, reverse-Outback Steakhouse stuffed with details that absolutely demand to be savored.

The third episode ends on a cliff-hanging note that suggests The Good Place is about to swerve in yet another new direction. I look forward to the whiplash that will no doubt set in as it careens around that next corner. Not only is this a thought-provoking, supremely intelligent series, it’s one that keeps asking, over and over, what it takes to be an upstanding citizen, which is something we’re forced to consider every day as we digest the latest headlines. The Good Place may not have all the answers — at least not yet — but it compels us to ponder what it means to have moral fiber just as often as it cracks us up. It’s an ethics lesson and a brilliant piece of escapism at a time when this country desperately needs both.

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Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

When Kit Harington entered the conference room, he had no idea what to expect.

The final season’s scripts had been emailed just a couple of days earlier, sending the Game of Thrones cast into a reading frenzy. Like millions of fans around the world, the actors had been waiting nearly a decade to learn their characters’ fates. The entire six-episode season arrived at once, protected by layers of password security.

Sophie Turner flew through her copies in record time, quickly messaging the producers her reaction. “It was completely overwhelming,” says the actress, who plays Sansa Stark. “Afterwards I felt numb, and I had to take a walk for hours.” Others, like Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), first had to hurry home to get some privacy. “I turned to my best mate and was like, ‘Oh my God! I gotta go! I gotta go!’” she recalls. “And I completely flipped out.” She then settled in for a reading session with a cup of tea. “Genuinely the effect it had on me was profound,” Clarke adds. “That sounds insanely pretentious, but I’m an actor, so I’m allowed one pretentious adjective per season.” Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, broke his years-long habit of checking immediately to see if Tyrion Lannister survives. “This was the first time ever that I didn’t skip to the end,” he says.

Even showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were uncharacteristically anxious, wondering how the actors would react to the climactic twists. “We knew exactly when our script coordinator sent them out, we knew what minute they sent them, and then you’re just waiting for the emails,” Benioff said.

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Game of Thrones – Season 8 on DVD

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The cast then journeyed to Belfast to gather in a production office for the formal read-through. By then, everybody knew the tale that was about to unfold, with two notable exceptions: Davos Seaworth actor Liam Cunningham (“The f—ing scripts wouldn’t open, the double extra security!” he grouses) and Harington, who outright refused to read anything in advance.

“I walked in saying, ‘Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,’” Harington says. “What’s the point of reading it to myself in my own head when I can listen to people do it and find out with my friends?” So, yes: Jon Snow, quite literally, knew nothing.

Benioff and Weiss opened the proceedings by asking the cast to refrain from doing anything during filming or afterward that might reveal even the tiniest spoiler (“Don’t even take a photo of your boots on the ground of the set,” one actor recalls being told). And then, seated around a long table scattered with a few prop skulls, the cast read aloud the final season of Game of Thrones.

At one point, Harington wept.

Later, he cried a second time.

After the table read, the Game of Thrones cast spent 10 months filming just six episodes of television. But the season actually took far longer to pull off. GoT’s final chapters have been in the works for years. To better understand what’s ahead, let’s first go back to EW’s season 3 set visit and this never-before-revealed conversation with Benioff and Weiss…

The production camper was like many others on the set — barren, cramped, cold, utilitarian, with dirt on the floors from muddy boots tramping in and out all day. The showrunners sat on the same side of a tiny dinette booth while the wind coming off the Northern Ireland bay howled outside. They were already thinking about their final season, and it worried them.

During its second season, the fantasy drama averaged 10.3 million viewers across all platforms. That was enough to ensure they were eventually going to finish the series, yet that inevitability was also the problem. Because when they first pitched Thrones to HBO, they hadn’t exactly been honest. And now they were working every day toward a finale that was impossible to make.

“The lie we told is the show is contained and it’s about the characters,” Benioff said, which was at best half true. The epic fantasy was very much about its ensemble cast, but it’s also the least “contained” series ever made. “The worlds get so big, the battles get so massive.”

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

Author George R.R. Martin, whose series of novels forms the basis for Thrones, had revealed to the duo the broad strokes of how his Song of Ice and Fire saga secretly ends, including a description of an epic final battle that’s been teased from the show’s very first scene. But this climactic confrontation was miles out of reach for a series that cost about $5 million per episode. “We have a very generous budget from HBO, but we know what’s coming down the line and, ultimately, it’s not generous enough,” Benioff said.

So the producers had an idea: The final season could be six hours long and released as three movies in theaters — just like Martin’s best-known influence, The Lord of the Rings. It’s not that the duo wanted to make movies per se, but it seemed like the only way to get the time and money needed to pull off their finale. “It’s what we’re working towards in a perfect world,” Weiss said. “We end up with an epic fantasy story but with the level of familiarity and investment in the characters that are normally impossible in a two-hour movie.”

The flaw in this plan was that HBO is about serving its subscribers, not taking gambles at the box office. Behind the scenes, the network brass gently shot down the movie idea. But executives assured Benioff and Weiss that they would eventually have everything they needed to make a final season that was “a summer tentpole-size spectacle.”

Years later, the producers would strike a deal with the network to spend two years on a shortened season 8 that would cost more than $15 million an episode. You could say HBO made good on that promise from 2012, and the showrunners will happily give the network full credit. “They put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills, which don’t exist anymore,” Weiss quips.

But it’s probably more accurate to say that since season 3, Benioff and Weiss willed their ambitious final season into reality the hard way: by growing Game of Thrones into the biggest show in the world, a hugely profitable pop culture and merchandising sensation with more than 30 million viewers an episode and a record number of Emmys. Only with that kind of leverage do your towering ambitions begin to look like reasonable requests.

In fact, the GoT team was so successful that the biggest sticking point in the agreement was persuading HBO to halt the series. “We want to stop where we — the people working on it, and the people watching it — both wish it went a little bit longer,” Benioff says. “There’s the old adage of ‘Always leave them wanting more,’ but also things start to fall apart when you stop wanting to be there. You don’t want to f— it up.”

That concern — a constant desire to conclude the show on the strongest possible note — is something we heard over and over from the cast and crew when we visited the GoT set for the last time.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic
Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

Chernobyl disaster: ‘I didn’t know the truth’

It was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. In 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in then Soviet-controlled Ukraine exploded, sending a radioactive plume across Europe.

The effects were devastating and the disaster’s impact was felt across the world.

The story of the accident – and its human cost – is being brought to the small screen in a Sky-Atlantic drama starring Jared Harris, Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård and Jessie Buckley.

Written by Craig Mazin (who also wrote the Hangover film sequels) and directed by Johan Renck (who also directed episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead), Chernobyl aims to “bring to life the true story of the unprecedented tragedy”.

The film follows the fall-out of the explosion and examines both the lives of those in power who tried to hide the truth and those on the outside who hoped to uncover it.

Oscar-nominated actress Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist intent on finding out how and why the Chernobyl disaster happened.

“She’s an amalgam of the [real-life] scientists who worked on the situation,” Watson explains.

“Her currency is she’s a brilliant scientist and if she can get the facts out, he [Soviet physicist Valery Legasov, played by Jared Harris] will recognise the truth. They [those in power] came close to annihilating the whole of Europe.

“[When] they sent me the script, I instantly thought, ‘This is brilliant, I want to be part of it.’

“It’s seen as an historical event but it’s still ongoing,” she says.

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Chernobyl on DVD

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Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment

Ulana appears fearless as she pushes for her voice to be heard amidst a cacophony of Soviet propaganda.

“Her character is from Belarus – they suffered terrible atrocities during World War Two, great swathes of the population were wiped out.

“She would have been a small child at that time and lived through some appalling things. She’s very tough and that’s made her very strong,” Watson explains.

“This is her moment, it’s a call to arms. She just takes the attitude that the science doesn’t lie.”

Buckley, who recently starred in TV drama War and Peace and the film Wild Rose, plays real-life character Lyudmilla Ignatenko.

As the wife of firefighter Vasily Ignatenko, she was one of the first on the scene when the explosion occurred.

Buckley also says that joining the cast was a no-brainer.

“I read the script and was completely blown away by it,” she says.

“You just want to do as honest a job as possible.”

Indeed, Lyudmilla’s anguish and panic as the drama unfolds makes for a harrowing watch.

Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

The legacy of Chernobyl

According to the UN, the event affected more than 3.5 million people and contaminated nearly 50,000 square kilometres of land.

The number of people killed by the disaster remains disputed.

The first emergency workers rushed in as lethal smoke billowed out. Of 134 who were diagnosed with acute radiation sickness, 28 died within months. At least 19 have died since.

It is conclusive that around 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer – most of which were treated and cured – were caused by the contamination.

Many suspect that the radiation has or will cause other cancers, but the evidence is patchy.

Amid reports of other health problems – including birth defects – it still is not clear if any can be attributed to radiation.

The Irish actress hadn’t worked with Watson before but their paths had crossed.

“I had met Emily over a coffee through Bafta Breakthrough, they set up a mentor thing – and I just think she’s so fantastic. And I said, ‘I’m going to do this thing about Chernobyl,’ and she said, ‘I want to do that!’ So that was nice.”

Buckley wasn’t born when the disaster happened but she says she still “had a relationship with Chernobyl” through her memories of a Chernobyl charity which gives sick children from the area a chance to recuperate in Ireland with host families.

But Watson was a student when it occurred.

Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

“I remember people at my college were studying in Kiev at the time but I really had no idea of the extent of it or the human sacrifice involved,” she says.

“An accident at Chernobyl is not convenient to the powers that be, hence they cover it up. Turns out there was a design flaw all along. There couldn’t be more of a warning from history.”

Buckley says she “was scared playing Lyudmilla because it’s so real and it’s so unbelievable what happened”.

In fact, she’s a revelation in Chernobyl, conveying the impending sense of doom, often with little dialogue.

Hers is the human face of the disaster, a symbol of the impact on ordinary lives – lives which are given little value as politicians and senior plant workers scramble to cover up the truth for their own ends.

Buckley didn’t speak to the real Lyudmilla as part of her research (“she wants to get on with her life”) but says: “Johan and Craig were so ruthless in making everyone aware of the truth.”

Watson concurs: “I have great respect for Craig and Johan… the amount of research was astonishing. I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing.”

Buckley also studied first-hand accounts and watched a documentary about her character.

“I felt a huge responsibility playing Lyudmilla, I wanted to tell her story as honestly as I could. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like but I really hope I have managed to be as honest and truthful as I can so everyone can realise that lives were lost because of lies.

“It’s not an historical event – it’s something that happened, that continues to happen. When I open my eyes to it, it’s terrifying.

“But also it’s [about] the complete sacrifice of these firefighters and [other] people made not to just save themselves but to save the world.”

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

Health Care in the Time of Grey’s Anatomy Season 15

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Grey’s Anatomy – Season 15 on DVD

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How medical television shows have shaped people’s perceptions of doctors and diseases.

It is hard to overemphasize how much I loved Grey’s Anatomy in high school. I loved it superstitiously. Due to a weird set of coincidences, I truly believed that if Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t new that week, I would have a bad week. At the time, it aired on Sunday nights, and I took it as an omen. I would show up to school Monday morning filled with dread after a rerun.

I don’t blame Shonda Rhimes for my misfortunes anymore. But hours (or, more accurately, probably days) of watching Grey’s, Scrubs, and other medical TV shows has still shaped my life, if research is any indication. Several studies have shown that people who watch a lot of medical shows are more likely to believe certain things about doctors, and about healthcare.

Admittedly, these medical shows provide a skewed image of the healthcare system at best. Surely no hospital has had as many romantic pairings as the doctors on Grey’s (whose 11th season starts next month), and I have to imagine bedpan racing in the workplace is … frowned upon.

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

Though you might think that people are perfectly capable of separating television from reality, cultivation theory suggests they cannot, entirely. The theory goes that the social reality people are exposed to on TV shapes their attitudes toward real social reality, and it does so, of course, in subtle and complicated ways that are hard to nail down. Prevailing societal attitudes obviously influence what goes on TV, too, further complicating the relationship.

“Television, movies, books, all of these things, a lot of people like to believe they’re just fun and games, that they really don’t affect us, it’s just entertainment,” says Dr. Rebecca M. Chory, a professor in Frostburg State University’s business school who has studied TV’s influence on attitudes toward healthcare. “But the research consistently shows that’s not true.”

A 2005 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the majority of primetime TV viewers reported learning something new about a disease or other health issue over six months of viewing. About one-third of viewers took some kind of action after learning about a health issue on TV.

Many medical shows have physicians consult for accuracy, and an article in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics notes that starting with ER in the ’90s, TV shows began using more detailed medical jargon to describe conditions and procedures. But there are still inconsistencies. Treatments for patients with seizures are sometimes downright dangerous, with doctors trying to hold patients down, or put things in their mouths (they could choke). Patients tend to survive cardiac arrest more often on television than they do in real life, making CPR seem more effective than it often is.

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

“That can lead to a misunderstanding as to the likelihood of a patient or loved one surviving a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. David Brown, chair of the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “But it isn’t really good TV if everybody dies, right?”

What does make for good TV: Rare diseases. Injuries. Natural disasters. Which means the amount of screen time given to different conditions isn’t proportional to how common those diseases are in real life, according to a new study published in Human Communication Research. People flock to these shows, after all, first and foremost to be entertained. So less sensational, more quotidian conditions like diabetes are underrepresented.

As a result, “a fan of medical dramas … can develop a skewed perception of what are more or less prevalent health issues in the real world,” study author Dr. Jae Eun Chung, an assistant professor in the school of communication at Howard University, told me in an email. Heavy viewers of medical dramas in her study were less likely to rate cardiovascular disease and cancer as important societal issues (when they are, in fact, the top two causes of death in the U.S.), and when it came to cancer, they were more fatalistic, “more likely to say that cancer prevention is uncertain and that the disease is fatal.”

On TV, the patients that have these compelling rare diseases are played by a revolving door of guest stars. The characters we really get to know are the doctors themselves. And the way doctors have been portrayed on television has changed markedly over the years. Medical shows in the ’50s and ’60s, like City Hospital, Dr. Kildare, and Ben Casey, showed doctors as noble, infallible heroes. These shows apparently received “creative input and guidance from the American Medical Association,” according to an article in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

It seemed strange that, out of the billions of word combinations possible in the English language, NBC’s medical drama “New Amsterdam” chose the precise title used by another series, about an immortal police officer, a decade ago.

But after seeing the first two episodes, I can think of one reason: “The Good Doctor” was already in use.

While the series, beginning Tuesday, doesn’t borrow the title from ABC’s hit of last season, it seems to borrow a philosophy: that viewers are anxious about a health care system that is inattentive to individuals, and they’ll reward a show that tells them the simple answer is “putting patients first.”

Heartfelt, well-meaning and dull, “New Amsterdam” is determined to fill that prescription, however many tearful bedside scenes and Bon Iver montages it takes to do it.

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New Amsterdam Season 1 DVD For Sale in UK
New Amsterdam Season 1 DVD For Sale in UK

New Amsterdam – Season 1 on DVD

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The series centers on Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), the idealistic new director of the title hospital, a public institution modeled on New York City’s Bellevue. He’s out to change things, fast.

He fires nearly the entire cardiac unit for “putting billing over care.” He pitches patient-centric ideas to a stone-faced hospital board. He advocates for a Haitian patient who wants a traditional “protection ritual” before surgery, over doctors’ objections. He asks the staff, repeatedly, in English and Spanish, “How can I help?”

He does it all with good will, self-sacrifice and a warm, stubbly smile. He may not be The Good Doctor, but he is The Goodwin Doctor.

Mr. Eggold has an easy charisma, but in the first two episodes, it’s all too easy — the scripts prove him right, over and over, and his staff, freed to act in patients’ interests, have success after success. It’s great for health care but less so for drama.

Instead, “New Amsterdam” piles on personal woes. Goodwin is diagnosed with cancer, on top of which he’s about to become a father, on top of which his marriage is in jeopardy — he’s been an inattentive husband to Georgia (Lisa O’Hare), because he cares so damn much about his work.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

There’s the expected drama among the supporting staff as well, like Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) and Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery), whose budding romance is stalled because of his concerns about interracial relationships (he’s black, she’s white). The hospital’s public-service mission, plus an affiliation with the United Nations, provides a diverse rotation of patients, whose cases raise questions of how culture can affect treatment.

But it all feels too smooth and forgettable. The show is rooted in a serious concern — the health care system feels in many ways broken and defies easy answers — but it does all it can to simply say, yes, the answers are exactly this easy. All it takes is one guy who cares a lot to free up everyone under him who cares just as much.

As it happens, there’s a handy contrast, airing on PBS the same night “New Amsterdam” begins its rounds: “The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science,” Ken Burns’s two-hour history of the “secular temple” of medicine (in the interviewee Tom Brokaw’s words) in Rochester, Minn.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

The documentary’s structure, jumping between history and contemporary patient stories, is a bit choppy, but the themes are timely. It deals with some of the same dynamics that drive “New Amsterdam,” particularly the tension between the business of medicine and the practice of it.

The Mayo Clinic operates on the same “putting patients first” mantra as Goodwin, but that requires a lot more than a slogan and good intentions. In large part, the film argues, it’s about money and institutional structure, in particular the medical center’s policy of putting doctors on salary, which eliminates financial incentives for using expensive procedures or spending less time with each patient.

15 Guest Stars on Supernatural Before They Were Famous

15 Guest Stars on Supernatural Before They Were Famous

There are now many actors who have become household names. Many of these got their start or at least had a chance to guest star in Supernatural. Here are 15 you’ve possibly forgotten from over the years.

How many guest stars from Supernatural have now become household names? You’ll be surprised to hear that many actors, especially on TV shows, started out with guest star roles on the likes of Supernatural, Charmed, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is a chance to look at back the ones that ran into Sam and Dean Winchester and have now made themselves known in households around the world.

Some of these are guest stars you may have overlooked or not realized at the time. Others you’ve known but didn’t realize this was where they started out. Some of these names didn’t quite get started on the series but did appear in the series before they became household names. However, most of them had the series as one of their first guest spots on TV before moving onto bigger things. Two of them are technically not guest stars, either, but series regulars who were in for a short period of time!

How many of these 15 guest stars do you remember from their time on Supernatural before they were famous? Don’t forget to let us know when you get through to the end.

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Supernatural Season 14 DVD For Sale in UK
Supernatural Season 14 DVD For Sale in UK

Supernatural – Season 14 on DVD

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Sterling K. Brown

Let’s start with good ole Gordon Walker. I remembered Sterling K. Brown in Army Wives before Supernatural. However, he came across the Winchesters first. In 2006, he took on the role of rogue hunter Gordon, who had lost a sister due to vampires and had a grudge against every single one of them. It didn’t matter if the vampires lived off animal blood or human blood. They were creatures and they needed to be killed.

This ended up with Gordon making an enemy of the Winchesters. Well, actually it was the other way around. Sam and Dean were willing to just forget about Gordon, but he was the one that kept showing up like a bad penny. Eventually, Gordon was taken down by the creature he hated the most: vampires. He became one and was killed by Sam.

Since his time on Supernatural, he became the only male “Army wife” in Army Wives. He was Roland Burton in the series, married to a high-ranking and determined female officer. As a psychiatrist, he helped many who came into the hospital and also treated a number of the officers and soldiers his wife knew—and spouses of his friends. He also helped deliver twins in the very first season.

He has since taken on the role of Randall Pearson, the child left at a fire station and adopted by the Pearsons, in This Is Us. This is the series he’s fully made himself a household name. We love seeing him as a good guy rather than a bad guy.

15 Guest Stars on Supernatural Before They Were Famous

Katie Cassidy

Katie Cassidy is best known for her role of Laurel Lance in Arrow now, but she got her start in Supernatural. Sure, she’d had small roles before her time on the series but it was as the demon Ruby that she helped to get her name out there.

Ruby was the demon we weren’t sure whether we could trust or not. She suddenly showed up in Supernatural Season 3 (becoming the first of only two females to get series regular credit in the series) killing demons and offering Sam help. She promised to save Dean from Hell, only to later make it clear that she couldn’t help after all. After the third season finale, Cassidy left the role and Genevieve Cortese Padalecki took on the role.

However, Cassidy went onto Harper’s Island, which would also star Supernatural guest star Jim Beaver. She would also guest star in Melrose Place, Gossip Girl, and New Girl, as well as landing one of the lead roles in the A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot attempt.

It’s Arrow where she’s become a household name—and she now films just next door to her old filming location. She’s Laurel Lance/Black Canary/Black Siren in the series and has also shown up in Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash.

Lauren Cohan

The second and only other female to get a series regular credit on the series is Lauren Cohan and one of the earliest works was Supernatural. However, you’ll know her now in many other shows, including The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead. She has certainly become a household name since starting out with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki.

Cohan was Bela Talbot in the series, a woman who has received mixed reviews from the fans. While she knew all about the supernatural creatures and lore, she used it for her own personal gain. She’d acquired artifacts to sell to the highest bidder. The only thing to stop her selling one on was by being affected by it in some way. This happened on two occasions in Supernatural Season 3.

Since starring in Supernatural, she’s moved onto bigger things. Her first was a guest star role in The Vampire Diaries, as Rose. She then moved onto Chuck, and then eventually onto The Walking Dead, where she’s played Maggie Greene and become a household name. She has also snapped up movie roles, playing Martha Wayne in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

While she hasn’t signed a contract for the ninth season, she is reportedly returning. However, she is also working on a midseason show for ABC called Whisky Cavalier. She is also in the movie Mile 22.

15 Guest Stars on Supernatural Before They Were Famous

Cory Monteith

The late actor appeared in Supernatural Season 1. It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments in a way. In the second episode of the series, he was in the tent when the wendigo was outside ravaging the tent. He was one of the unfortunate victims. Why? Well, his character wasn’t attached to the main guest stars for the episode. Go figure!

Anyway, Cory Monteith went on to land a show of his own. Like you need any introduction to Finn in Glee. He was the football player who wanted to sing, even if joining the glee club meant being a geek.

Before Glee and after Supernatural, the Canadian actor also guest starred in an episode of Smallville and played Kahill in Final Destination 3 (you know, the one with the killer rollercoaster and tanning beds?) In 2007, he also landed the role of Charlie Tanner in Kyle XY and was Gunnar in 10 episodes of Kaya.

He had two projects after Glee, both released posthumously. Cory died on July 13, 2013 from a drug overdose. He’d suffered with addiction and mental health problems for a number of years and had received help before the accidental overdose. He was mourned by friends and fans, with a focus on his character’s off-screen death to give everyone a chance to publically grieve.

Chicago Fire Season 7 Finale Review I am Not Leaving You

Chicago Fire Season 7 Finale Review I am Not Leaving You

If nothing else, Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 7, “What Will Define You,” gives Taylor Kinney a chance to show off some powerful skill as we have a chance to dig a little deeper into his character.

Severide’s relationship with his father has always been complicated, to say the least, and losing him so suddenly only shows that further. He’s heartbroken, angry, and full of guilt, especially considering their last conversation and the way Benny came through for his son anyway.

In a way that seems very fitting with his character, Severide is laser-focused on getting the details handled and moving on. One detail that’s important is his father’s medal, which Benny wanted to be buried with. But, Benny was Benny, and there’s no telling which one of his exes might have it.

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Chicago Fire Season 7 DVD For Sale in UK
Chicago Fire Season 7 DVD For Sale in UK

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It’s sweet how much Stella puts into finding that medal and how much the others are willing to help with that mission. I’m also really appreciating the positivity in Stella and Kelly’s relationship. This is a difficult time for Kelly, and Stella is showing exactly the patience and compassion he needs.

In return, Kelly shows his appreciation for her — it’s a heck of an emotional episode, but when she hands him that medal after he was certain it wouldn’t be found (it turns out his sister had it all along), it’s as though she fixed everything in his world.

Equally touching is the way Boden is able to advocate for Severide and for the funeral he believes his father deserves. Watching the firetrucks pull up as they walk out with the casket — it’s enough to give anyone goosebumps.

We talk a lot about how Firehouse 51 is a family, but what this shows is that the firefighter community is a family, and it’s pretty remarkable how they can come through for one another.

Chicago Fire Season 7 Finale Review I am Not Leaving You

Meanwhile, Brett is continuing a pattern of getting involved in her patient’s lives. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it feels a little… contrived. This was a characteristic we became used to from Gabby, and honestly, it’s one we’ve gotten used to from the other characters as well.

Everyone is willing to go above and beyond, but there’s something that feels a little off in Brett’s involvement with the texting teenager. Her compassion is nice, though, and she addresses her conflicting feelings by visiting the new chaplain — which seems to bring on some different kinds of feelings.

I wish we could see Brett and Antonio get back together, but if that’s not possible, I’m on board with someone new for Brett, and the new chaplain definitely seems like he’s going to have a presence.

The texting teenager does get quite the lesson, and it makes for a useful storyline. We’re used to seeing stories of drunk drivers causing accidents on television, but this is a problem that, at least from what I’ve seen, isn’t addressed quite as often.

Chicago Fire Season 7 Finale Review I am Not Leaving You
Will Orange Is the New Black End After Season 7?

Will Orange Is the New Black End After Season 7?

It’s the part of the arrangement at Netflix. On July 26, the spilling goliath will discharge the seventh and last period of its Emmy-winning arrangement Orange Is the New Black, which pursues the convicts of Litchfield Penitentiary.

Since its debut in 2013, the show has earned across the board praise. It presented plots and storylines with a different arrangement of ladies at the cutting edge, brought issues to light of jail issues and criminal equity change, and earned more grant designations than we can tally.

In any case, oh dear, all beneficial things must arrive at an end. “After seven seasons, it’s an ideal opportunity to be discharged from jail. I will miss all the bada** women of Litchfield and the amazing team we’ve worked with,” show maker Jenji Kohan said in an October 2018 proclamation (by means of Deadline). “My heart is orange yet blur to dark.”

Be that as it may, why precisely is the show arriving at an end? This is what to know.

Nothing keeps going forever

As Kohan stated, it’s the ideal opportunity for the women to start new parts. Furthermore, dislike fans didn’t see this coming. She implied that the show would end after Season 7 of every a 2017 meeting with The New York Times.

Entertainer Beth Dover, who plays the disputable Linda Ferguson, expounded on the choice to part of the arrangement a July 16 meet with PopCulture.com, telling the site, “It just felt like the opportune time.”

“I think Jenji constantly needed seven seasons. You envelop it with seven, and as much as I’d love to continue doing this for all eternity, it just felt like the opportune time to do it,” Dover clarified.

Exit with an extravagant flair

On June 26, Netflix discharged a trailer for the up and coming season, and it would appear that watchers are in for a wild ride. As you likely know, Season 6 finished with Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) escaping jail, and now she needs to change once more into society. In any case, that is not all that simple. She makes duplicates in an office, meets with a post trial supervisor for medication tests, and battles to make companions.

In the interim, her better half, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), is still in jail serving four additional years — and it appears as though she could get additional time in the expected season.

Prepon disclosed to The Hollywood Reporter in August 2018 that Vause is “truly attempting to remain on the straight and tight for Piper,” yet noticed that she needs to do what’s important to make due in Litchfield.

“I think Alex sees the truth and realizes the amount additional time she’s in there for,” Prepon clarified. “I think in the back of her psyche, she realizes she will need to do a few things to endure that aren’t going to fit taking classes. Furthermore, it’s heartbreaking.”

Will Orange Is the New Black End After Season 7?

Side project could occur

Lionsgate is supposedly considering a side project arrangement for the hit show, yet the planning must be “correct.”

“We’re extremely pleased with the long run that [the show] had,” Lionsgate TV Group administrator Kevin Beggs revealed to The Hollywood Reporter in November. “It stays one of Netflix’s most-watched appears. We’re finishing on a high note. Remember we possess that arrangement and will disseminate it for quite a long time to come. We’re as of now in exchanges and, when the planning is correct, we’ll talk further with Jenji about a potential continuation.”

Dover remarked on the likelihood of a side project to PopCulture.com. She said that while she is uninformed of a recovery, “it truly would be incredible to see.”

Orange Is the New Black Season 7 won’t be tied up in a decent bow,” Dover kept, prodding the arrangement finale. “It’s much the same as life. Life will proceed. These ladies, some will be in jail, some will get out. Their lives will proceed.”

Ideally, their lives will proceed on TV screens. We’ll update you as often as possible with any future side project refreshes.

why-did-june-let-eleanor-die-in-handmaids-tale-season-3

Why did June let Eleanor die in Handmaid’s Tale Season 3

Towards the end of “handmaid’s tale season 3”, June walked in on Eleanor to see she had taken an overdose of pills. Instead of trying to her, June decided to leave her master’s wife to die. Fans have cobbled together a reason as to why June would do such a cold thing, believing it’s actually a smart move for her greater plan.

We’ll miss you, sweet Eleanor. You were unreasonably useful for The Handmaid’s Tale’s Gilead, also sagacious to live in changeless obscurity and a lot of a danger for June to genuinely consider sparing you when she saw you wheezing for air like a goldfish that jumped outta the bowl.

One other snappy note about the current week’s scene? I KNEW IT. Serena, you guileful little minx, I KNEW you were some way or another in on helping Mark Tuello nail Fred to the atrocities divider. Truly, I would’ve been frustrated on the off chance that you hadn’t been the devious deceiver that we’ve detested from the start.

Peruse on for the features of "Penance."

‘YOU JUST GOT AWAY WITH MURDER’ | We get with June still in her room, petting the weapon Lawrence gave her toward the part of the arrangement scene. She’s certain that the tires in the carport and the boots on the stairs are Guardians coming to get her for murdering Commander Winslow, so she focuses the weapon at the entryway and pauses. In any case, it’s simply Eleanor, who advises her there are men down the stairs with Joseph, and Beth needs assistance getting ready nourishment for them.

June plummets to discover Commanders Putnam (one hand) and Calhoun (the dad of Natalie’s child) conversing with Joseph. Before she can go in to convey the nourishment, Beth acclaims June for being such a boss — it’s clever that from the start June believes she’s being wry — and reports some uplifting news: Billy at Jezebels is in, and “Flight’s seven days from today.” Woo!

The environment is less euphoric in the parlor, where the authorities need Lawrence to enable them to take care of the issue of what Canada has done to the Waterfords. “Since those two are good and gone, you come to me?” he asks, calling attention to that his trusted status has been stripped. They insight that they may most likely change that, however he shows them out, saying he needs time to think about the circumstance. When the men are gone, Lawrence questions with June.

Gilead’s higher-ups think Winslow is simply absent and that possibly he got taken by American powers the way Fred and Serena did — and that is the means by which June realizes what’s befallen the man who used to assault her and the lady who held her down when he did. He includes that they’re confronting preliminary as war crooks. “I surmise they didn’t carry 52 children with them,” he jokes. Furthermore, when June pauses for a moment to process what she’s heard, he includes, “Brighten up. Fred and Serena are toast, and you just pulled off homicide. All things considered, not a terrible morning.” She sits, covers her face with her hands, and begins to giggle.

why-did-june-let-eleanor-die-in-handmaids-tale-series-3

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 RITA ROCKS | So, back to June’s arrangement, which she spreads in murmurs at Loaves and Fishes: The marthas will get the children to the house after dim, at that point Lawrence will get them to the plane. Rita is shopping there, as well, and she ensures June realizes that Serena was thoughtful to her when she left. “She’s just decent when she’s looking for trouble,” June protests. It’s valid! Anyway, Rita says she’ll do whatever’s expected to carry the plane arrangement to fulfillment, and she’s dazzled with June’s moxie. “This is your thought?” she inquires. “Such a supervisor now.” They quickly clasp turns in the potato receptacle, and Rita tells June, “I’m glad for you.” She’s unquestionably going to kick the bucket soon, would she say she isn’t?

Gracious, ELEANOR | June’s manager buzz is slaughtered, be that as it may, when she returns home and sees Mrs. Winslow and Mrs. Putnam imploring with the Lawrences. Eleanor is excessively disturbed; when Olivia regrets that she can’t bring up six kids without anyone else, Mrs. Lawrence speaks up to state, “We can take the kids with us!” Joseph plays it off like she’s offering to put the Winslow children up at their home, yet Naomi knows something odd is going on. (Side note: How is that lady ALWAYS around when Eleanor says something implicating?)

In any case, there are more concerning issues: Gilead needs to close the fringe, so he arranges June to climb the flight date. Um, not feasible, buddy. They’re hindered by Eleanor, who is intending to go entryway to-entryway to snatch kids for the vehicle. June needs to get physical with her special lady so as to get her to stop, and however Joseph shrugs off his handmaid’s brutality, Eleanor at last concurs it’s what was important to stifle her.

A lot later, June presents to Eleanor some nourishment and discovers her lethargic in the wake of taking an overdose of dozing pills. June quickly attempts to resuscitate her, however then reconsiders it, kisses her on the brow and afterward leaves the room just as she’d never been there. One of the marthas discovers Eleanor’s body later.

Joseph is a messed up man in the result of his significant other’s passing, yet in any event he got Gilead to keep the fringes open. “It’s difficult to contend with a man who’s in grieving, notwithstanding for them,” he notes wryly, attempting to keep it together. They have a weepy trade about how kind Eleanor was, at that point they go to her memorial service. After every other person leaves, June remains with her leader at the grave.

The Handmaid’s TaleYOU KNEW IT WAS A SNAKE WHEN YOU PICKED IT UP | Up north, Serena is permitted to visit with Fred in his cell for five minutes. He enthusiastically grasps and kisses her, inquires as to whether their captors have harmed her. She says she’s fine, at that point implores him not to say anything they’ll have the option to use against him in the preliminary. He dismisses that, sure that Gilead will remove them from their present circumstance. “You need to quit stressing over me now. You need to spare yourself. I’ll be fine,” she says, crying a bit. Fred’s whole manner changes on a dime. “What have you done?” he murmurs. “I need to be with my girl,” she answers, and in the event that he didn’t figure she’d successfully get that going, he actually never knew her by any stretch of the imagination.

Fred is so furious, he has her by the neck. “I feel sorry for the tyke that has you as her mom,” he snarls. In any case, Serena’s everything thank u, next. “I’ll petition God for you, Fred,” she says on out of his cell.

The Handmaid’s Tale Moira and Luke bring Nichole to the confinement place for a directed encounter with Serena, yet they’re distraught about it. In case you’re searching for a genuine case of a mic drop, may I direct your thoughtfulness regarding what Moira says to Mrs. Waterford as she hands off the child? “Because you got some new garments doesn’t make you any unique. You are as yet a similar lady who held my companion down so your significant other could assault her. Also, he assaulted me, as well, at the whorehouse. Treated me like poo like I was useless. I am who I am and I have trespassed bounty, yet you? You are the sexual orientation backstabber.” BOOM.

In the mean time, Luke needs to meet with Fred. That… doesn’t go well, either. Get the job done to say, it closes with Fred screwing with Luke’s brain (“The June Osborne you knew doesn’t exist any longer. Gilead’s changed her. I’ve changed her.”) and Luke punching Ol’ Beardy directly in his idiotic face before Tuello pulls him off and pulls him out.

The Handmaid's Tale TV Shows

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 3 on DVD

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 2 on DVD

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1 on DVD

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